Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Designs and Things

Well... I've officially become addicted.

I have made shirts, onesies, car decals, cup decals, etched glasses and dishes, and more!

Here are a few of the projects I've been busily completing in the last couple of weeks!  Visit me on FB to see everything and to order! https://www.facebook.com/TooCreativeDesigns/

This is the inside view for the drinker.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Designing with a Cricut

My hubby, in cahoots with his parents, got me a Cricut for Christmas!  And by for Christmas, I mean they let me go get it on Black Friday when it was $100 off at Joann's.

On sale AND ready to use before Christmas?!  Yes please!

So here are a couple of misconceptions and truths I've discovered in my week or so of ownership.

*Cartridges are NOT required anymore.
         I have zero cartridges and have plenty of things that I've uploaded or things I've searched in the Cricut library.  Don't let the thought of buying cartridges turn you away.

*Fonts are not cloud based.
         While the Cricut Design Space is cloud based (meaning you access through the internet rather than just on your computer) your fonts do NOT save in the Design Space between your sessions.  You have to be sure you have that exact font on each computer you use DS on in order to have your words/spaces stay the same.  (Some recommend saving a design as a pic, but it's a lot harder to have the exact transparency that way.  I just moved all my fonts to all the computers I use.)  :)

*You can turn images transparent.
           Ideally, you'll want to save images with transparent backgrounds so you can quickly upload and cut designs.  HOWEVER- if you have something you love that isn't transparent, the DS has a magic wand button (literally) that takes out whole sections of color (ie: white background).
This was transparent, but I needed it to not print as one giant circle. So this image has 3 colors and I wanted them all cut out of different vinyl.  I was able to delete each of the layers with the DS tools in order to upload it as 3 images- one for the red rings, one for the white star and white ring, and one for the blue whatever you wanna call that space.

This one was also not transparent.  Even if it had been, I still would have had to work on it because the snowflake in the center wouldn't have cut out when I used the Cricut.  The magic wand and a few clicks later, the image was a perfect outline of what I'm going to cut.  (Ps- It's going on a frost colored shirt and I'm using white glitter heat transfer vinyl, HTV, for it.  It's going to look uh-mazing.)

Overall, it was totally worth the $179 price tag, even if I wasn't the one per say spending the money.  I have found it really easy to use for HTV cutting.  I definitely find the HTV roll material way easier to use than the HTV sample that came in the box (it didn't have transfer tape or anything).  

Here are a few of the designs I've made so far.  I'm having a blast!  Please check out my FB page!  https://www.facebook.com/TooCreativeDesigns/

Friday, November 20, 2015

Scheduling a Toddler's Afternoon... hmm...

Well- we came up with a schedule and tried it yesterday.  We ended up going with 30 minute blocks to make it easier for us to work with him knowing times on a clock.

3-3:30 Get home, eat a snack (if he didn't just finish at school)
3:30-4 Free Play (we'll soon limit how many toys are out at a time)
4-4:30 Arts & Crafts (M,W,F) or Words (T,Th)
4:30-5 Sorting (M,W,F) or Outside Play (T,Th)
5-5:30 Music
5:30-6 Reading
6-6:30 Dinner
6:30-7 Free Play
7-7:30 Chores
7:30-8 Movie Time and Bible Time (usually 20 min and 10 min respectively)

J's bed time is 8pm, which usually means around 8:10 after songs and kisses and such.

Our plan is to print off the schedule, laminate it, and post it on the fridge.  (pg 1 is pictured below)
We've gotten a "special" magnet (as in we let him pick out his own $0.50 magnet so it was "special") for him to move as we work through the different activities.  We're also working on getting a very easy to read clock with a gentle alarm/timer to help with transition reminders.  

Here's my feedback on this idea after day 1:
1. I was flippin' tired.  I thought keeping up with him when he was mischevious and playing was tiresome, but keeping this chart going was tiresome.  I think that'll decrease as we get used to it and as J becomes more independent with some of these.  I also told hubby he'll have to tag in for some things so this mama can rest!
2. It completely cut down on discipline issues.  For real.  I was super surprised at how much less fussing we had in our day yesterday.  I am pretty sure some of it was because he had more of my undivided attention but also some of it because he was engaging in new things every so often rather than just trying to decide what to do next on his own all the time.
3. I'll likely make a new one when I see this rotation wearing thin.  One thing I already know to be true with children is that they're constantly changing as far as what they like and what works, so I know nothing is a permanent idea. 

Hubby and I agree that it seems like a really positive start and we're excited to see how it goes as we put more days in a row together with this routine.  Next week will be about 3 days like this before Thanksgiving, so it'll be another good run without being all 5 days like that.  

Anyone out there have experiences to share?  I'd love to hear ideas, suggestions, and stories!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


We just wrapped up a series of parenting classes through our church.  It was WONDERFUL!

My favorite part about the entire process is that I feel like we gained some wonderful friends in the same season of life, which is something we've been really feeling the void on.  It's hard when your friends have kids who are older (thus more flexible) or don't have kids at all (and they're thus more flexible).  We wanted friends who have kids that can play with J and can understand when we say we can't stay because nap is coming up.  They'll understand that nap shall not be breached unless there is an imminent attack from space.  Nap is important.  (Can you tell I try not to miss J's nap?!)

The series was also great for providing much needed validation on what we're doing right (even if it doesn't work all the time) as well as direction on how to change in order to improve on what we're doing.  I'm going to give you a few nuggets they taught.

1. First Time Obedience- It's a must.
Your child isn't in charge of your home.  They don't get to decide when and where to obey- you do.  Yes- they're a valued member, but they're not the adult and ultimately they're still in training on how to even make a decision, much less make a wise one.  This means no counting to three when you're expecting obedience. (Made my teacher heart happy to hear that one... I hate the counting thing.)  You're giving your child extra time to decide whether or not to obey for you.  Are you going to count to three when a car is coming and they need to stop?  No- you'll need them to obey the second you say STOP!

2. Freedom isn't a right when they're little.
Your job is to gradually release your grasp as they grow up, not to give them a ton of freedom and then struggle to hold onto them when they're teens.  Right now, we're supposed to be giving them structure, rules, guidance, and room to make mistakes and learn consequences.  When they're teens, if we've done this, it should mean we can give them more of their freedom without having to worry about what sort of decisions they'll make (as much) because they've been trained on actions/consequences/expectation.

3. You're doing it wrong.  And so is everyone else.
This made me feel so much better! Hearing where everyone was struggling let me breathe a little, like- YESSSS! No one else is perfect so I'm not terrible!  It gave me some slack to know that it's ok if I'm on a learning curve just like J is.

4. Parenting is a team effort.
We'd seen this in our own family a bunch and this just reaffirmed what we want to be- a team.  That does NOT mean we think alike or agree all the time, but rather that in front of J- we're unified.  We want him to see a parenting team that's there for him 100% but that's going to be unified in holding him accountable 100% as well.

One thing I'd never really considered until I heard it from the class was having the afternoon time (once I'm home) be more structured.  I'm currently working on a schedule for once we're home from school.  So far, here's what I've thought of for activities:
*Music / Songs (20 min)
*Reading Time (20 min)
*Art / Crafts (15 min)
*Outside (15 min)
*Chores (15 mi)
*Words (10 min)
*Sorting (10 min)
I'm thinking of having some of these for MWF and some for TTh instead of all of them each day.  We already do 20-30 min of tv at night plus Bible time, so that's pretty structured already.  Plus- he'll have already been at school all day where they'll have done most if not all of these things.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Yay for April!

Here's our next adventure!

Meet baby boy!  

I love how our announcement turned out.  Thanks to my little brother for capturing our reveal! 

Baby J is super excited about his "brover" coming soon!

Chicken Pot Pie- pretty simple and freezer friendly!

For the life of me I can't find where I got this from, so please know this is NOT mine... I just don't know who to give credit to!

Here's what whoever wrote:
·         1 cup chopped onion
·         1 cup chopped celery
·         1 cup chopped carrot
·         ⅓ cup butter or margarine
·         ½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
·         2 cups chicken broth
·         1 cup half and half or evaporated milk (I personally use skim or 1% milk and it’s still good!)
·         2 cups chicken, cooked, chopped
·         1 cup frozen peas, thawed
·         1 tsp. salt
·         ½ tsp. pepper
·         4 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
Order Ingredients

1.     Saute the first 3 ingredients in butter in a big skillet over medium heat until tender. Add flour; stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and half & half/evap. milk; cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
2.     Stir in chicken, peas, salt, and pepper. Cool before pouring into pie crusts. VERY important!
1.     At this point you may freeze the filling in a labeled freezxeer safe container/bag. To prepare from frozen, read instructions below.
2.     Or you may also assemble the whole pie and freeze whole.
3.     To do that, prepare crusts. Roll them out and place the bottom crusts in the pie plates and set aside the top crusts until ready to cover. Pour filling mixture into bottom crusts and cover with top crusts. Fold edges under and crimp. Poke slits in the top (you can make a nice pattern here too!)
4.     Cover with foil, label and freeze. See below for preparation instructions
1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.     Prepare crusts. Roll them out and place the bottom crusts in the pie plates and set aside the top crusts until ready to cover. Pour filling mixture into bottom crusts and cover with top crusts. Fold edges under and crimp. Poke slits in the top (you can make a nice pattern here too!)
3.     Bake assembled pie uncovered, for 30-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
1.     Thaw filling in refrigerator. You might need to stir or mush the filling together to combine well and reincorporate. Assemble as described above and bake accordingly. OR you may bake the whole pie from frozen.
2.     To do so, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3.     Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 16 (from two pies--if you're just making one pie it will just serve 8).
4.     Freezes very well separately or fully prepared in the crust. Try them both and see which way you prefer!

 Maybe Pioneer Woman?  No idea.  It was a doc on my computer we decided to finally try.  

Here's what we did differently and what we thought!

1. We baked both pies that it made fresh and just had pot pie for a million meals in a row.  It was pretty yummo so that wasn't really a problem.  It reheated just fine, which is perfect for taking lunches!
2. She said she used milk, so we used the milk we had which is Horizon's organic whole milk with DHA added.  It's pretty thick so it worked really well.
3. We used the frozen pie crusts that come 2 to a pack.  I let them thaw and then used the second one as the top.  That way we had the pan and bottom crust ready and then I could easily manipulate the other crust as a top for the pie.  
4. It didn't really specify how to cook the chicken, so we just sort of diced it and then cooked it up in butter.
5. There was ONE flavor that was just not quite right.  So far, we're thinking it was the carrots.  We used large regular carrots and next time I think we'll use the little baby carrots so that we won't get that bitter note that we felt was there.  It was really subtle but it was just not quite right. 

I do plan to freeze one the next time we make them, but I'm glad we had lots this time!  Here are a few pics I snapped on my phone as I cooked so you could see consistency along the way.  (That's always one of my things I need to see from a recipe.)

Please let me know if you make it and what you think!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Clean Eating Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I was on Pinterest the other day surfing for new recipes (like always) and I came across this gem.  Let me preface it by saying I was not attracted to it because I just love me some zucchini.  It's ok.  It's not the thing I think of when I think of the word yummy, though.

HOWEVER, this recipe was DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the original recipe.  

Here are all the changes I made (either on purpose or because I accidentally bought the wrong thing or forgot something).

  • 4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise and middle scooped out and reserved.
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef   We used 1 lb organic ground chuck from a local farm.
  • 1/2 cup chopped red/yellow/green peppers in any combination (We bought the prechopped pack at Publix that had all three colors of peppers.)
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning  (used probably 2T of organic taco seasoning)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (used organic)
  • 1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese (cream cheese is excellent substitute) (<-- agreed... we used organic, local cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, chopped   (I hate parsley.  Ew.)
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded  (Forgot this one!  Used organic, local monterrey jack instead and it was awesome sauce...)
  • 1 green onion, sliced thin
First of all, we're really lucky we've discovered a local, organic farm recently called Happy Cow Creamery.  If you live in the upstate of SC or are visiting, I HIGHLY recommend you visit this place.  Baby J even got to have a cow eat hay out of his hand last time we went!!  Anyway, that's where we got a lot of veggies, the meat, and the cheeses for this and a few other recipes.  That way we knew we were supporting a local business while keeping pesticides out of our meals as much as possible.  

I followed the original recipe's directions as far as prep and stuffing the boats.  I wish I'd made a double batch as we each ate two (two boats, not two zucchinis worth) and they were phenomenal.  I shared a few bites with Baby J when I reheated them for lunch and he now chants "more tinni" whenever he hears me say the Z word.  LOL!  He loved them, too! 

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner

Well.  Since everyone and their brother is writing about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, I figured I would, too.

I can summarize pretty much everything I think and feel in one sentence that doesn't have anything to do with that person.

I am a person who has made many choices that go against God's will.

What is buzzing right now is "news" (somehow) because it's against tradition, not because it's against most people's moral compasses. Yes- it goes against what God tells us in the Bible.  Yes- it goes against what I believe is right.  Yes- it pretty much goes against nature.

BUT- I go against what God's told me to do every time I lie, gossip, feel spiteful, or do any manner of things.  So- why is his issue/disobedience any worse or better than my issues or yours?  It isn't.

Famine. Disease. Murder. That's news.  One person's choice to disobey God is not news.

Next topic?

Friday, May 22, 2015

End of the year blues....

Teachers are tired.  Kids are tired.  Moms are tired.  Know who isn't tired?  The poeple who make the rules about how stupidly early testing is and how painfully late schools dismiss for summer.


Let's all laugh together, if only to keep from crying.  http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3378480

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Healthier Enchiladas

So this recipe is based on my daddy's recipe that I grew up eating.  It's SO delicious the way he makes it that I don't dare even claim mine are the same.  I've made these for years, but I tried making them a bit healthier this time.
Tortilla Shells (*see pic for brand I used this time... I used to use just corn ones though)
Organic Tomato Sauce (1 8oz can per 1 lb meat you use)
Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese (1 block)
Organic Monterrey Jack Cheese (1 block)
Steak (*I used top round this time.)
Onion (1 medium)
Garlic (1-2 cloves)
Chili Powder (to taste... I use a LOT)
Organic Sour Cream

So- it's up to you about the organic stuff, but that's what we chose in order to make this an almost clean meal.  

1. Dice the onion.  Grate your cheese.  Get the cans of sauce all open.  Cut the steak into bites (about 1/2 in by 1/2 in)  Have everything ready so that you don't have to do some of it in the middle.
2. Saute the onion and garlic in a large saucepan.  
3. Throw in your chili powder steak and cook over med-high heat until lightly browned.
4. Pour in your sauce.  (*Remember that it's 1 can of sauce per 1 lb of meat, so double if needed.)  Add some more chili powder to the sauce.
5. Let the sauce simmer on low while you get the rest going.
6. Hold your tortillas open in your hand.  Sprinkle cheese up the center of the wrap.  Add meat/sauce up the center.  Wrap up and place with the opening down in a 9x13 glass dish.
7. When you've wrapped them all up, pour the remaining sauce/meat and cheese over the enchiladas. 
8. Bake on 350 for 10-15 minutes (you're wanting a bubbly cheese topping).

*I add raw, diced onions between the meat and the cheese for my hubby. 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top!  Better yet- guacamole! Our store didn't have any good avocados, so sour cream was it for us! Let me know what you think!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Clean Sloppy Joe Skillet Cassarole

Holy goodness, Batman.  Totally thought this dish looked gross start to finish.  I mean... who likes sloppy joes in the first place, much less when clean and in a cassarole?!  Proof I was a doubter... I didn't even bother to take pictures because I was sure I'd hate it.

I. Was. WRONG.

This was delicious and it was very filling with just one slice (out of the eight he cut it into).  He ate two, of course, but I thought one was plenty.  (I was also surprised by that.)

I highly recommend you try this and keep an open mind whil you cook.

The only thing we did differently from the directions is he broiled it for a minute or two before serving (to get the cheese bubbly).

Thank you, Elana's Pantry, for a delicious dinner! (and lunch tomorrow... and probably dinner tomorrow night....)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Good news, bad news.

Good news first:  I just found out I'm getting to move up to 4th grade!  After 10 years in third grade, I'm SUPER excited to have the opportunity to try something new.  Bonus- my best friend teaches 4th, so I'll get to work with her!
Other good news- I've been writing for Kidding Around Greenville and I LOVE it!  I love writing so this is perfect for me!

Bad news:  I've gained back 7 of the 14 pounds I'd lost.  This is not a "Why?! Why me?!" statement.  I know why.  I've gotten off our plan for eating cleaner.  We tried Shakeology for a week, which had very strict daily intake rules.  Those are NOT for us.  We are not dieters.  We need room for the occasional soda or cookie.... or five.  So, we've determined to make May our month to get back on track.  Hubby, of course, has lost around 30 pounds and hasn't really regained much of it.  *stupid men getting it easy*  We're looking to expand towards baby 2 soon and I want to be solidly in our healthier lifestyle before getting pregnant again.  Plus- I'd love to stop cooking separate food for baby J.  lol  (aka- I'm lazy and/or tired.)

So- yay and boo and yay for getting back on track.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Edible Sensory Bead Fun!

Over Spring Break, I finally got to do a couple of activities that I'd been wanting to try for awhile.  The first thing we tried were sensory beads.  I'd seen lots of activities using sensory beads, but they all involved some not-so-great chemicals or Borax.  I wanted some that weren't super icky if they were accidentally swallowed.  (Seriously it's like fighting an octopus sometimes.) 

Here's the recipe I followed, but I changed a few things.  First of all, I used food coloring that's natural.  I'd been wanting to get some for awhile, but this gave me an excuse for getting some already.  I got the pearls they recommended, but they are NOT as bright as they acted like.  They said they're bright already, but they're not really.  They have a few that stand out as a particular color, but most of them are just cloudy clear.

I followed their directions for boiling the beads and for soaking them in dye.  I think the colors turned out pretty nicely.

Since I didn't use gel food coloring, I can't say how the color would last on the beads.  With the coloring I used, they lasted pretty well throughout our play.  You can see that the water got cloudy as the dye washed off some.  Their article said that their beads stayed for a couple of days, but ours did not.  I saved them in a little water like they said, but they basically turned a muddled color as they sat.
For the overall cost for this, though, I don't care that they didn't last more than the one play session.  He had a great time with them!  They were so slippery and slimy that he concentrated a lot on trying to pick them up.  The container you see is the lid to a cupcake/cake carrier.  I really loved the little middle bit because he kept making a train of beads and pushing them through.  I definitely recommend getting creative with the container so that it adds to the play session.

Let me know if you try this and how your brain play goes!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Amazon Deal On IKEA Cups

Click on the link for the cups and then be sure to look to the right where it says "other deals on Amazon"... it's the first link there.  $5.85 for a set.  That means less than $1 a cup!!  Spend With Pennies has all the details!


How to Paint a File Cabinet

I read a whole bunch of pins on Pinterest before doing this, but I'm not linking any of them here.  Partially because they all said the same thing and partially because if you follow me on Pinterest, you can see all the pins I pinned and read them yourself as you come across them.

That being said, allow me to add one more tutorial on how to do this.

First and most importantly- this was SUPER EASY.  Like- way easy.

*spray paint (I pictured the kind I picked)
*one of those continuous hand things that keep the spray going...so much easier
*electric sander and sanding block (I'm sure you could do it all by hand if you needed)
*hot glue and glue gun
*dollar store frames
*file cabinet

Here is the super duper easy explanation.  I cleaned the entire thing.  I sanded the entire thing.  I recleaned the entire thing.  I hot glued the frames on.  I spray painted the cabinet (I went through almost 6 cans... I wanted it to be a solid coat.)  I was done.  :D  Simple enough, huh?

I really love the matte finish.  It looks more like furniture to me.